The Last Five Books I Didn’t Finish

You never want to DNF a book, but sometimes it happens anyway. The book isn’t as good as you’d expected or heard, or maybe your attention just gets captured elsewhere and before you know it, it’s been weeks or even months since you last abandoned that book and now have a funny guilty feeling whenever you see it lying on the counter because deep down, you know you won’t be coming back to it.

But DNFs aren’t anything to feel guilty or bad over! I used to feel this internal pressure to finish every book I started, as if it was reflection on my character – like it meant I was persevering or loyal or something. But gradually I moved away from this mindset. There are so many amazing books in the world that if I’m not enjoying something, I leave it! What’s also comforting to me is knowing that even if I DNF something today, doesn’t mean it’s DNF forever. I can always come back to it later in life – maybe when I have more time, or perhaps more ready to appreciate it.

Below, three books that I recently put down…but plan to finish at some point 🙂

First published in 1905, The House of Mirth shocked the New York society it so deftly chronicles, portraying the moral, social and economic restraints on a woman who dared to claim the privileges of marriage without assuming the responsibilities.

Lily Bart, beautiful, witty and sophisticated, is accepted by ‘old money’ and courted by the growing tribe of nouveaux riches. But as she nears thirty, her foothold becomes precarious; a poor girl with expensive tastes, she needs a husband to preserve her social standing, and to maintain her in the luxury she has come to expect. Whilst many have sought her, something – fastidiousness or integrity- prevents her from making a ‘suitable’ match.

I was about 60% through when I had to leave it, despite loving what I’d read so far. Why? Because I know there’s a sad ending, and I like Lily and the entire early-20th-century environment so much that I didn’t want to experience her ultimate downfall. I’m been so good about avoiding any spoilers (spoilers for a 115 year old book, I know) because I actually do want to find out for myself what happens, but for right now, I need a little distance! (I make it sound like we’re in a relationship or something)

Every animal, whether human, squid, or wasp, is home to millions of bacteria and other microbes. Many people think of microbes as germs to be eradicated, but those that live with us—the microbiome—build our bodies, protect our health, shape our identities, and grant us incredible abilities. In this astonishing book, Ed Yong takes us on a grand tour through our microbial partners, and introduces us to the scientists on the front lines of discovery.

Ed Yong is a science journalist for The Atlantic and I’ve always enjoyed reading his thoughtful essays. He recently came out with a book about microbes – I know, it sounds dry and boring, but the way he writes makes them fascinating! The thing is, this book is so freaking dense (his characteristic writing style) and I was looking for something much lighter at the time, so it’s sitting in my Kindle for now, waiting for when I’m ready to tackle it better.

From Brandon Sanderson-who completed Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time-comes The Stormlight Archive, an ambitious new fantasy epic in a unique, richly imagined setting. Roshar is a world relentlessly blasted by awesome tempests, where emotions take on physical form, and terrible secrets hide deep beneath the rocky landscape.

Very similar situation as above. I liked the first 15% of it that I read, but this book is so huge and encompassing (you can tell by the generic blurb that there’s no good way of summing it up) that I just wasn’t ready to jump into this vast new world yet. I’m leaving this for a time when the world has calmed down more.

What books have you unfinished recently? I’d like to hear!

(prompt by That Artsy Reader Girl, photo by Book Pairings)

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